Zeitz MOCAA

Heatherwick Studio, Cape Town, 2017

 

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The repurposing of the grain silo presented engineering challenges 

Iwan Baan     Download Original

  • The repurposing of the grain silo presented engineering challenges    
  • To connect the two major parts of the complex, a central atrium was carved out from the silo    
  • View of the harbour    
  • The silos’ innards have been excavated to create an atrium    
  • The geometry of the space was generated from a 3D-scan of a corn grain    
  • The fragile original concrete was sheathed in new structural concrete sleeves, then cut by hand with a combination of power cutters and diamond rope saws    
  • Centre for the Moving Image    
  • The interstital tube space    
  • The atrium walls are a sandwich of the original concrete with horizontal steel ring reinforcements    
  • Where the tunnels have been chiselled away at the base of the atrium, the curved silo walls have become spontaneous places for play    
  • Location plan    
  • Level 0    
  • Level 1    
  • Level 2    
  • Level 4    
  • Level 5    
  • Level 6    
  • Section AA    
  • Section BB    
  • Vertical and horizontal sections    
  • Development sketch of elevation    
  • Development sketch of floor plans    

A breathtaking interior is the star feature of this converted grain silo, transformed into the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art.

The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art (MOCAA) occupies the hulk of a grain silo building on the East Quay which, when built in 1924, was the tallest building in sub-Saharan Africa. 

The stripping of the magnolia paint on the silo building, applied in the 1980s, has revealed a dazzling concrete shell pockmarked and scarred by its 90-year history. Within, the silos’ innards have been excavated to create an atrium. The fragile original concrete was sheathed in new structural concrete sleeves, then cut by hand with a combination of power cutters and diamond rope saws which sliced through the silos’ concrete skin.

The museum’s ground floor entrance is under a reconstructed steel saw-tooth shed. It winds around the central atrium and includes the ticket desk and shop. The galleries – two floors of temporary exhibition space above two floors of permanent collection displays – have been inserted into the windowless cavities on either side of the atrium, and are accessed via a utilitarian steel spiral stair or glass cylindrical lifts which shoot up and down the shafts of the partially cut-away silos.

To connect the two major parts of the complex – a 33m-tall storage annexe consisting of 42 vertical concrete tubes and a 58m-tall grain elevator tower – the project team carved out a central atrium from the silo’s cellular structure. The sleeved tubes together formed a gigantic arch spanning the future atrium space and provided a cutting guide for removing portions of the old silos with hand-held double disk saws. 

Data

  • Begun: 2014
  • Completed: Sep 2017
  • Floor area: 9,500m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £30M
  • Procurement: Commission
  • Address: V&A Waterfront, Silo District, S Arm Rd, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa

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